Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Drastic Measures

I've been on a quest for the last few years.
When we lived back in Florida,
I had a debilitating experience with fatigue.
My primary at the time sent me to a university clinic
out of town to find answers.
None came.
Around the same time,
severe eczema plagued my hands,
preventing even simple activities.
After many doctor visits and remedies,
I am still dealing with it from time to time.
I've also had constant congestion in my sinuses,
and have suffered from sinusitis several times 
over the last 10 years.

Having always been mindful about what I eat,
 exercising regularly, and maintaining a constant weight,
it has puzzled me to no end.
I've always tried to figure out these mysteries myself,
unwilling to take a pill as any kind of solution.
It's been a long road,
but I think I'm now heading in the right direction.

I started seeing a naturopath that my current primary recommended,
and together (all 3 of us) are working toward a better quality of life.
On my 59th birthday, I went to see Dr. Lexi Lane,
and discussed with her my issues 
and the ultimate goal of being able to enjoy my 60's
by fostering supreme health.

carrot and red cabbage slaw

We've been experimenting with a few supplements,
and have recently added an allergy panel test and elimination diet.
I won't lie,
the diet is tough.
Here's what I can't eat:

high glycemic fruits (bananas/pineapple) 
nightshades (eggplant/peppers/tomatoes)
 nuts & seeds
sweeteners (even my beloved honey)

Out of all of the no-nos, 
I think I miss my coffee and chocolate the most.

I've made do with an array of mostly vegetables,
prepared in various ways,
a bit of fish, legumes, and a few fruits.
 Roasted or sauteed veggies are made every few days
and I've resorted to using canned beans to make things a bit easier.
Legumes are actually on the no-no list,
but since I don't eat meat, an exception was made.

The trouble I had was needing something crunchy,
and carrot and celery sticks weren't cuttin' it.
Do you know how difficult it is to find snacks
that are grain, soy and sugar free?
I found these snacks in my local grocery store,
and they have just about saved my sanity.

The cool mornings have lent themselves well
to my tasty breakfast soup,
although I think when the time is up for the diet,
I will never again eat soup for breakfast!
Thank goodness for apples and pears being in season,
because I have been downing them like candy,
not only for the sweetness, but to fill my belly between meals.

vegetable breakfast soup

Today starts day 10 of a 5-week diet,
although, thankfully, next week selective grains can be added.
It will be wonderful to again enjoy beans with rice,
quinoa or millet.
The other items on the list will be added back 
after the initial 5-week period,
one at a time, to see if a difference is noticed.

The allergy panel should be back in another week,
and it actually detects sensitivities, not true allergies.
But I'm hoping the information will help us
determine what might be causing the inflammatory issues
I've been dealing with.
It will help us sort out the puzzle pieces
and come up with a plan with which to move forward.
With any luck, I will be able to again 
enjoy my favorite foods without worry.
In any case, I'm so grateful to have a pair of doctors
who respect my way of doing things 
and share their wealth of knowledge to find answers.

 I can't help but be curious to see the results of the testing.
And I'm really looking forward 
to my first cup of coffee.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Garden Friday

 It's Garden Friday!
We are thankful for cooler temperatures,
less humidity 
and visitors like this in the garden.

Although we turned toward autumn,
with temperatures in the 50's overnight,
the loofah plant is still flowering like nobody's business.

The loofah are being picked as they turn brown.
This was a fundraising project for The Community Garden.
They are fashioned into soap scrubbies.

 The sweet potatoes will hopefully be harvested this weekend.

I was able to prop up the white sweet potato trellis
with a couple of "Y" shaped branches found in our wood pile.

 The leek that were leftover from a March planting was harvested this week.
Some of it was turned into a delicious leek-onion soup
and the rest was chopped and put into the freezer for use later in the fall.
These leek were a fraction of the size of the crop grown last year,
and they never really developed, so they will be enjoyed as baby veggies.

 Not everything survived the drought this summer.
This poor thyme didn't get enough water and was lost.

I'm behind on my planting this year,
but I did manage to get some sugar snap peas started.

 I created a border using some branches we had lying around
and fastened them together with wire.
I like the rustic look.

 I decided to stagger my planting,
so I did one section next to the arches
and will sow more every 2 or 3 weeks.

 It seemed like a good idea to repeat the practice of 
adding wire over the planting area to keep squirrels from digging up the seeds.
(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

I noticed yesterday that they have germinated.
Take that, you sneaky varmints!

 The other major project completed was the new beds we added.
We had the wood cut at the store,
which made the construction even quicker.

 The area was cleared to make room for the new beds.

 The original plan was for three new beds,
but at the last minute, we decided to install only two,
and keep the center space open for a future project.
The interior of these beds will be filled with a layer of leaves and twigs,
and then the addition of our organic potting soil.
Amendments will consist of coffee grounds, worm castings and turkey poop.
Hopefully, that will give everything a good boost!

 In these two new beds,
we made sure to pound down the rebar in the center of the blocks.
This should keep the beds from going astray.

 The feed sacks I had put down under the mulch
did a great job of keeping the walkways weed-free.

The corners of the new beds do double duty
as a hose guard when it is needed on the other end of the garden.
A drip system is planned to make watering easier.

 The sunflowers have been left in place to dry,
so that the birds have some extra nourishment this fall.

 It looks like someone's been feasting!

Although the Red Ripper beans have slowed to a crawl,
we are still getting a blossom now and then.

What a relief to feel the cool breeze in the mornings.
This summer seemed like the hottest one in a long time,
but I think I say that every year.
I'm just grateful that it's over (I hope),
and we can look forward to much more comfortable weather.

Has autumn shown up where you are?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Got Woodchips?


In June of 2018,
just after we moved into our new home,
we were gifted with a free load of wood chips
from the local power company.
They needed a place to dump and we were happy to oblige them.
That load got distributed mostly in the veggie garden.
Good stuff, that.

Since then, I've been looking for another source,
as the power company hasn't been working in our area recently.
A couple of tree service companies were called,
but after leaving messages, 
nothing happened.

Then, friends had some damaged trees cut down
and I was able to speak with the worker in charge.
He assured me that his company was always looking for places to dump.
I promptly gave him my contact information
and he informed me that they would be working in my area
within the next couple of weeks.
Nothing yet.

After watching 
"Growing a Greener World" on PBS this weekend,
I learned about  
Chip Drop.
It's a company that has a master list of folks who want wood chips.
Basically, you register your address and some other pertinent information,
and you could be the recipient of a massive pile of free chips!
It's helpful to be a bit flexible with the delivery.

We are now on the list and will be happy to receive them,
no matter when they come.
(There are a few things to consider before applying for chips.)
So many spots around our home could use a bit of freshening up,
so we look forward to our first load,
(hopefully soon). 
Ahh, I love the smell of wood chips in the morning...

To learn more, you can go to the website, found

Friday, October 4, 2019

Garden Friday

 Welcome to Garden Friday!
By the time this posts,
summer will officially be on Her way out!
This thermometer measures the temperature (top number)
on the north side of our house,
which is mostly shade.
I think we actually hit 100 degrees yesterday.
The weekend is supposed to gift us with 
daytime highs in the 70's.
We are SO ready for fall!

Without much ambition due to the heat,
not much has been done in the garden of late.
The okra and eggplant were torn out
to make room for our new raised beds.

 This area will be reworked and amended
so that we can place three new raised beds in the space.


 The supplies were purchased this week
to create two of the three beds,
using the concrete corners seen here.
We'll document the process,
so that we can show how simple it really is.

 Beans are still coming in and I'm hoping that this weekend
I can get our sugar snap peas planted.
We are using the direct sow method,
as snap peas do best this way.
They will be placed to the right of the bean vines,
all along the arches.

 The loofah is turning all kinds of colors,
from lime green, to mustard, to a rich, coppery hue.

 With the cooler weather looming,
I'm hoping to have abundant time on the front porch,
shaking out seeds to reserve for next year's planting,
and a mess to share with friends.

The trellis created for the sweet potatoes 
didn't quite contain them.
The foliage is so bountiful that it is falling over.

sweet potato blooms

 The cooler temperatures this weekend
should help this crop along its way.
I'm ready to harvest, even if the plant isn't.
I will need the bed to plant beets.

 One crop that isn't dependent on the weather is sprouts.
These Red Ripper beans are ready in a matter of days,
greening up on the kitchen windowsill.

I collected these Hyacinth Bean pods
from one of my jobs.
It's a gorgeous climbing vine
with delicate purple blooms.
I can see this ascending trees and trellises 
in our garden next season.

These sweet pansies haven't stopped blooming
since being added to the veggie garden months ago.
The heat and lack of rain haven't bothered them one bit.

Aren't sunflowers just stunning?
In all stages.
I find them fascinating and absolutely breath-taking.
Just look at this one seed head that droops after having its glory in the summer sun.
Each seed is the promise of sunflowers next year in our garden.
These will be harvested and saved for planting early next summer.
A gal has to have some motivation to face another scorching garden season!

Will you be planting a fall garden?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
It may be officially autumn, but it still feels like summer.
Fall planting has not begun,
as we await cooler temperatures to get things started.

 It hasn't rained in over a month,
but the twice a week watering seems to be enough
for the sweet potatoes and a few other crops.

 The pollinators are getting what they need.

sweet potato box

With the melons ripped out,
the arches will soon have room for the snap peas to climb.

 The Red Ripper beans are starting to slow down,
with leaves turning brown and less blooms showing up.

Even the strawberries are faring well,
considering the lack of rainfall.
The straw bales really hold in the moisture.

black-eyed Susan vine in straw bales

 The basil was a late comer to the garden,
but is still doing well, even with 90 degree days.
We have had temperatures at or above ninety for 80 days straight.

 I started tearing out the okra,
which was easier than I thought,
but I'll leave the rest of the task for the weekend.
The plan is to pick up the materials needed for the new raised beds
next week so that fall planting can begin.

The loofah thrives on drought.
The flowers just keep on coming
and we're amazed to see the size of the gourds.

This is about the stage that they are being harvested.
The copper-colored, brittle skin is easily removed
to discover the scrubber underneath.
We've started shaking the peeled gourd to remove the seeds.

When tearing out the cucumbers,
this big guy was unearthed.
It's since been made into cuke salad.

Last weekend, we were finally able to empty the trailer
of the free mulch we got from the landfill.
Our county provides it to residents
and we have been blessed with many a load.

The pile of cardboard and newspapers was bothering me on the front porch,
but it needed to stay dry until we could get the mulch.
So glad we got this project done, so we could tidy this up.

Newspapers are used as a weed block
anywhere that might be planted,
like under this tree.
It would be nice to add some shade lovers underneath,
and the newspaper makes it easier to add plants later on.
Cardboard is better used for walkways,
where no planting will take place.

I like the way the mulch helps to dress things up.
We recently learned about a nearby tree trimming company
that is located near our neighborhood.
We are supposed to be on their list for free wood chips.

If we get a delivery soon,
the wood chips will be added to the front facade
over the mulch.

I'm hoping to get some bulbs planted this fall
to add a bit of color to the front of the house.

 Elsewhere, the blooms haven't stopped all season.
The butterflies have been all over the zinnias,

 and we are happy to oblige them what they need.
They get nectar, we get blooms,
everybody wins!

black-eyed Susan vine

 We've been doing our best to keep the bird baths
clean and full, using water from our rain barrels.
It's been so dry, that the birds, bees, and squirrels have been frequent visitors.
We keep stones in the bird baths (usually lids from pots)
so that the butterflies can make use of them to soak up moisture.

It's been a long, hot and dry summer.
With no rain in the forecast for the next week to 10 days,
it might be time to start a rain dancing ritual.
 I'm up for it!